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Consolidation of Evanston/Skokie’s two school districts is one of 30 recommendations to be presented at tonight’s meeting of the District 65 school board as a means of solving future budget crises for the district.

The 2011 Citizens’ Ad Hoc Budget Committee, which has been meeting since Sept. 6, will present its final report for discussion. Superintendent Hardy Murphy said that additional opportunities for staff review and deliberations will occur as the district begins its annual budget building process next year.

Currently, the district’s operating fund shows a structural imbalance between the rate of increase in revenues and the rate of increase in expenditures. While property taxes are projected to increase by 4   percent over the next four fiscal years, salaries are projected to increase by 13 percent and benefits by 35 percent.

Not helping the situation is that student enrollments have increased by 11 percent since the 2007-08 fiscal year and are projected to increase another 2.82 percent from FY2011-12 to FY2015-16.

Among the other recommendations that are sure to provoke board interest are to increase class sizes, take the teachers union president off the district’s payroll, and examine the number of non-teaching professionals, such as school psychologists, social workers, and speech pathologists, employed by the district.

Noting that the ratio of 475 non-teaching employees to 680 teachers is higher than national standards recommend, the committee suggests that the district “could consider lowering the ratio of such support staff while adhering to nationally recognized standards.”

On school consolidation, the committee recommends consideration of “the financial and educational feasibility of merging District 65 and District 202 to save duplicative costs while enhancing educational continuity.”

The budget committee’s presentation is likely to have an effect on the board’s discussion about how to finance the building of a new school in the 5th Ward, which is also on tonight’s agenda.

The public portion of the meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the district’s headquarters, 1500 McDaniel Ave.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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13 Comments

  1. Teachers’ union president — paid by the School District?

    Why is the teachers' union president paid by District 65 — in other words, directly by the taxpayers?  Shouldn't the teachers' union president be paid by, oh, I don't know, the teachers' union itself from the union dues collected by the union?  How is the union spending those union dues if it is not to pay the union president?

    But as long as this person is paid by District 65, we as taxpayers have the absolute right to know how much this person is making?  How do we find out — a Freedom of Information Act request?

    Is it commonplace for the school district to pay the salary of the teachers' union president?

    1. WOW

      I did not know this and, if this is true, it is a total waste of taxpayer dollars. On top of this, we will probably need to pay this non-teacher a teacher pension. If this is required under state laws, it is one of the many corrupt reasons this state is broke.

      1. teacher’s union president

        My understanding of way this position works is that the union president is a tenured D65 teacher who takes a two-year sabbatical from the classroom to hold the union president job, then returns to the classroom when the term is over. Which muddles this argument a bit.

        1. muddles?

          You are not suppose to be paid if you take a sabbatical. There is no muddle here. This person should be paid by the union during this time without that period being counted for a teacher pension. If a union leader is being paid by the city or state for doing a union job, we have found a major reason why the city and state are broke. Corruption runs amuck in this state.

    2. One more way

      The unions always seem to find a way to get the taxpayers to pay for their activities.  To have their officers paid by the city, schools or taxpayers is beyond belief.  Hopefully the games the unions in Chicago have played with the pension system, will be noticed by Evanston taxpayer—and fixed.

      1. Does she teach our children?

        If she's a TEACHER, then taxpayers pay her to teach our children.

        If she doesn't teach, then let the union members pay her salary.

        Simple. Does she teach?

        It is much easier for our government bodies to spend other people's (taxpayer's)

        money. If government leaders and that includes Schools, City etc spent OUR MONEY like

        it was THEIR MONEY then maybe we as a City, State, and Country wouldn't be in this

        situation. And yes, she will receive a pension, funded by you know who (along with her contributions)

  2. “Non-teaching employees”

    I'm curious about this plan to reduce the ratio of non-teaching to teaching employees.  In my mind, there is a big difference between a non-teacher who is in an administrative role and a non-teacher who works in the schools as a "school psychologist, social worker, or speech pathologist."  In a district like ours that promotes inclusion, has a high number of kids on free & reduced lunch, and has many children with IEPs, it seems crazy to reduce the number of professionals in those roles.  They may not have their own classrooms, but in my experience in D65 they are an essential part of the success of many students and classrooms.  If we are serious as a district about pursuing successful inclusion in our classrooms, this does not seem like the place to cut. 

  3. The impact of cutting support staff on the regular ed. kids

    Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), schools have to provide children with Least Restrictive Environments- Part of this is giving children support staff to meet their needs.   IF a child has a language, learning, or social/emotional need, the most highly qualified person, meaning someone with a degree/certification in that area, must be called on to support the child.   

     The schools in Evanston have already cut many of the additional resource staff, such as the reading specialists and behavior specialists.  It was my understanding that D69 stopped placing incoming children with the most severe needs at Park School, which is the most restrictive setting. For many children, placing them with supports in the regular education buildings is a great choice because it helps kids socialize with good role modelled peers.  Hardy Murphy didn't mention though that the cost of educating a child at Park school is also 10 times or more the cost of educating a child within the regular school settting.   

    If the school board thinks that you can fully include children with severe needs, and then start taking away services from these students, they are not only violating the ethnical intent of the law but severely hurting  children with disabilities, and all the other children in the classrooms…

     Imagine for a moment what's it like to have 29 students in your class, with 1 kid who regularly throws the desk when he is upset, or gets on the floor and has a tantrum? Or another child who is so far behind in reading that he needs to be taught one-one?  Or how about a child in the 5th grade with the language skills of a first grader who needs to have everything broken into small steps to help aide comprehension?  How would you teach this classroom and meet the needs of all 29 kids?

    This is what you are already asking your teachers to do.  Now you are talking taking away the supports?

     

     

     

     

    1. Make the right decisions already….

      So many people these days are so ready to criticize teachers and education. So many people forget that teachers show up to work everyday to teach children. They work with children with such a wide variety of needs from low leveled learners to super high achieving students. They have to teach some kids to read simple sight words and others to analyze and infer using texts 2 to 3 grades above their current grade level, keep emotionally unstable children focused, and handle parents who want their children challenged or parents who can't even feed their children or get them to school consistently. Yes, all these children can be found in the same classroom. How can we take away supports for these children or teachers?                      

       District 65 is so confusing. They want to appear as this very advanced learning community but can't seem to plan ahead or organize their schools efficiently. They want to build a new school to ovecome crowding, but plan to let the sudents in the area of the new school CHOOSE if they want to go the new school. How can you do both?

      Back in the 1970's District 65 closed College Hill and moved kids to Timber Ridge. Then they closed Timber Ridge and moved kids to Oakton and Walker. All of those people seemed to have survived all that transition. Why can't they just redistrict now, stop allowing non-residents to stay in Evanston Schools, stop allowing for permissive transfers and just say,"This is where you live, This is the school you go to." No one wants to make hard decisions anymore because someone might be offended or feel slighted.

      Times are tough, people. We need to make decisions based on what children need. They need normal class sizes with support for their learning needs. If that means I get on a bus to get it, or have to drive a little further to get to that school so be it. Stop cutting positions that are needed.Trim the fat at the top. Reallocate who goes to what school and then the students will be more successful. I bet if someone analyzed the number of students in each classroom, at each grade across the district it would surprise people. Yes, some classes have under 20 kids, some have over 25 kids. Redistrict, stop cutitng the positions that matter, cut ones that don't, and put an end to this mess. 

      1. Right On

        Totally agree with this post.

        As for the people focused on the union president's salary being covered, that's small fries.  Focus on the bigger picture.  

        There is a lot of administrative waste in D65 and D202, primarily in the form of duplicative services/functions.  I believe the focus of any educational budget needs to prioritize the children first.  We have a zero sum game here, taxpayers will not/can not afford greater increases in property taxes without some sort of complementary increase in the economy and in property values.  I do not see either of these rising as much as the planned tax levies in the near future.  So, without disrupting the children's educational environment, cuts need to be made in other areas, namely the administrative services. 

        Let's start at the top.  Why do we need to pay for two superintendents?  Chicago only has one.  I guarantee you the salary and pension of each superintendent is much higher than the teachers' union president.

        In other ways, combining the two districts could create better buying power for expenditures.

        I'm not privy to all of the workings of the school districts, but I'm sure I could come up with more cuts and cost-savings….

         

      2. What teachers are doing

        If teachers don't feel they are getting respect or the needs of their student met, part of the problem may be themselves, the union or the Board.

        What residents know about the teacher and schools comes from what they see of the students accomplish.  That is from test scores, number that go to college [and highly rated colleges] and finish, but also the crimes committed by Evanston resident [we don't know if they were Evanston educated].  Even parents won't know much more once their kids move from one grade to another [or finish] or school.

        Teachers and the schools should 'promote' themselves.  E.g. teacher Web pages showing their education, accomplishments, profile their top students honors, write articles that residents can read and see their views and skills, etc.

         

        1. Teachers promoting themselves

          If you don't know what teachers are doing to help your kids, you need to pick up the phone and ask.  You, as a parent, need to show up at conferences.   If you did these things, you would know that teachers in D65 already have web pages.  Here is a link to all the teacher pages at Lincoln, but if you go to the D65 web page, you can find the rest of the schools too-        http://lincoln.district65.net/Teachers/#Kindergarten

          Teachers don't go into teaching to be loved, admired, or respected by other adults, although dang that would sure be nice too.  We do it because we love kids.  We care about the future of this country, and we want to make a difference.  We want to change lives.

          I think it's pretty sad that people like you want us to prove to you why we should be respected.

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